Wooler distillery plans raise spirits

The site as it is now.
The site as it is now.

Plans have been unveiled for a distillery and visitor centre creating up to 50 jobs on a prime site in Wooler.

The multi-million-pound development is being planned on the dilapidated former Redpath’s Yard on South Road.

Developers hope the Ad Gefrin Distillery – named after the Anglo-Saxon palace at nearby Yeavering Bell – will reinvigorate the local economy, help to retain young people in its workforce and regenerate a site disused for over 20 years.

Alan Ferguson, whose family will operate the business, said: “This is a very bold undertaking for our entire family, involving my wife Eileen, our five children and myself. Our ultimate aim is to develop a unique single malt whisky and a major attraction, as well as opening a new chapter in the cultural developments and traditions of Glendale.

“Ad Gefrin is a multi-million-pound project which will totally transform this site, and we believe the community, local businesses and local producers will all benefit.

“Our proposal is probably one of the largest single inward investments ever made in north Northumberland. Ad Gefrin will be a key part of the long-term process of much-needed regeneration in this area, and we believe it will enhance our community for generations to come.”

A public consultation at 2 High Street, Wooler, is currently open daily from 10am to 4pm, until August 31. This will be followed by the submission of the architect’s designs and plans for the development to Northumberland County Council’s planning department in October.

Subject to the relevant planning consents, it is hoped that the distillery and visitor centre will open its doors by 2020, but such is the length of the process of laying down a fine whisky, full release of the Ad Gefrin Single Malt is not expected until 2028.

Wooler’s nearest distillery, Glenkinchie, over 50 miles to the north, attracts over 60,000 annual visitors, and Chris Ferguson, who will be developing the project with Eileen Ferguson, said: “We are incredibly excited to bring whisky distilling back to Northumberland.”